The Charge in Ceylon (Gufler) to the Officer in Charge of Economic Affairs, Office of South Asian Affairs (Fluker)


Dear Bob: Thank you for your letter of November 26.1 I have not answered it sooner because it arrived while I was away on a leave trip from which I returned to find a mountain of paper on my desk. Gretchen and I decided to take every day’s leave to which we were entitled and flew to Japan. We stopped over a number of places en route and had a chance to get a pretty good bird’s eye view of the territory between here and Tokyo.

The Leftist groups in Ceylon are having a real field day as a result of the agreement with Red China. They are extracting the last ounce of satisfaction possible out of assertions that even the UNP has to go to the Communist world when it has a real problem to solve. I should think that a good many UNP stalwarts would be embarrassed by the line the Leftists are now taking. It puts the UNP in a difficult position in view of the political line it has always taken, particularly in the recent election campaign. All of the political leaders in every party almost without exception own rubber plantations. I suppose, therefore, that the extra rupees they are all earning will serve as a consolation to the UNP leaders for their political inconsistencies and add additional sweetness to the opposition leaders’ satisfaction with the deal.

I am too old to have experienced the recent actions of the Ceylon Government as a first demonstration of the Adam family’s tendency to [Page 1562] sell out principles for cash or prospects of cash, but I still cannot keep down a feeling that the whole exhibition here has been a disgusting demonstration. With all that, our Ceylon friends remain as charmingly friendly and hospitable as ever and in conversational references to the Red China deal blandly and almost childishly present the assumptions that we must of course be aware of their unalterable opposition to communism, must know with what great reluctance they view the deal, and must understand the economic necessity that they get a higher than world market price for their rubber and that starvation was the only alternative to Red Chinese rice. They follow this with the assertion that the alternative to some such deal was a state of affairs that would foster the growth of communism in Ceylon and that the rubber-rice deal is therefore one of the best means at hand for fighting communism.

That may be something of an oversimplification of the attitude here. There are indeed Ceylonese who are uneasy over the whole matter and who are particularly disturbed by the extent to which de Fonseka appears on his second visit to Peking to have added new elements to the original deal. Nevertheless self-interest and national pride, awakened by “European” criticism of the deal, has brought matters to the point where most Ceylonese are inclined to defend it more and deplore its objectional features less than when it first was proposed. Those who still have grave misgivings about it are reluctant openly and vigorously to voice them.

The deal has increased and in some cases brought to the surface the latent nervousness of “European” elements in Ceylon. The unease that tends to make “Europeans” increasingly reluctant to increase or leave their capital investments in Ceylon or to invest substantial parts of their lives in work in Ceylon has gained in intensity from the Red Chinese deal. We have heard this from many sources, both business and professional, and not all of them are old line British die-hards. They include people who have hitherto been sympathetic and who appeared satisfied here. One of the most striking reactions along this line was shown to my wife and me by an Austrian bacteriologist and his wife who have taken the Chinese deal as a signal to look elsewhere for a permanent connection. The bacteriologist heads the main Government laboratory that services the principal hospitals here and has previously shown great interest in his work and in the opportunities he has had for original research here.

Gretchen joins me in best wishes for the New Year and in the hope that we shall soon again have the pleasure of a visit from you.

Sincerely yours,


P.S. If you can ship over some of that Kansas-Nebraska snow surplus, we might be able to turn Nuwara Eliya into a ski resort. B. G.

  1. Not found in Department of State files.